Nestled in East London is a VR experience like no other I have had before. Upon entering Otherworld, a VR bar under an unassuming railway in the Haggerston District, you are greeted with a white hall filled with “immersion rooms” and staff dressed in pseudo-futurist outfits. You can also hear Otherworld visitors in the immersion rooms yelling commands, calling out to friends for help, and laughing at each other as the faint hum of fans kick on and off in the units.
While my friend and I were a bit late for our appointment (sorry about that!), the staff accommodated us graciously and got us set up in our respective immersion rooms. Each room is a dark cylinder with a headset suspended from the ceiling and a set of controllers. In case you were wondering, Otherworld utilizes the HTC Vive VR headsets for their experience. After some adjustments and a quick tutorial of the island and games, we set off through the portal to the Otherworld.
Mikey from The Dream Corporation was kind enough to provide some info:
Once you have the headset on, you’ll be in the Otherworld. It’s a parallel universe with an island at its heart, which contains portals to sixteen of the best virtual reality experiences on the market. You can choose whether you go to fight for survival in a zombie apocalypse deep in Arizona; battle robots hell-bent on destroying mankind; soar from tree to tree and explore the secrets of the ancients; paint in 3D with light and fire — or many other experiences.
Inside the Otherworld you can see and hear your friends and explore together. Some of the sixteen experiences are multiplayer, and some are single-player. You can change between experiences at any time while you are in the Otherworld.
After some completely normal confusion as to what the heck was going on in the mysterious starter cave, we set off down the mountain and wandered around the Otherworld island searching for some co-op games to play. The island is visually pleasing housing four different biomes based on the seasons. These biomes also coordinate with the types of games that are housed in these areas. Honestly, had there not been a time limit it would have been nice to walk around and take it in a bit more. The island serves as the central hub to find different game experiences you can play with friends or solo. We immediately booked it to play the co-op zombie shooter Arizona Sunshine and the sci-fi shooter Raw Data located in the winter area.
Like all the games in the Otherworld, these are VR games you can play at home. Arizona Sunshine and Raw Data are available via services and consoles like Steam and PSVR, but the ingenious thing about the Otherworld is that is houses these games as experiences in their world – it serves as a repository for VR games which can make it super easy to swap them in and out of the game world as new and better games are released. Or they could add more games to the island. Either way, it’s a bloody brilliant system that they’ve developed that will stave off obsolescence.
Both Arizona Sunshine and Raw Data were similar experience set apart by two very different game worlds and themes. Waves of enemies will attack, requiring you and your friends to work together to fend them off and survive. Arizona Sunshine allows you to pick up weapons on the fly, where I started dual wielding pistols and pulling off sweet Matrix-style moves minus the actual hitting of any baddies. Raw Data allows you to pick a class of character that has different weapons and abilities. I opted for a bow-wielding cyber druid while my friend played as a robo-ninja. Pulling arrows from a quiver on your back and shooting them at drones in the air in VR is such a satisfying experience. Both experiences made me feel like a virtual badass but I would have loved to see how stupid I looked via their immersion room camera feed. I was also very thankful when the fans kicked in as I felt I was working up a bit of a sweat killing all those zombies and robots.
We tried to jump into another game called Windlands 2, but our time ran out as we were whisked away from our immersion rooms. Needless to say, walking out of the immersion room was an odd feeling after 40+ minutes in VR. You swing your arms around to walk through the Otherworld and my humorous first instinct was to the do the same leaving the VR bar. We ended up not sticking around for drinks due to a laundry list of breweries were going to stop by that day, so we dropped into a brewery next door for us to grab a pint and talk about the great time we had in the Otherworld.
If you are in London and looking for an awesome experience, I highly recommend stopping into Otherworld. Also, grab a drink while you’re at it.
For more information, visit https://www.other.world/